A Beautiful Home Renovation Makes Big Bucks For The Sellers

It’s a happy day when I see a home renovation where the owners did everything right.

And they didn’t listen to the hackneyed advice on HGTV.

Indeed, I’ve written about HGTV’s home staging shows before. And I bemoaned how they have gotten an entire industry thinking that the way to sell a home is to strip it of any vestige of originality or character.


But is that how to make money on a home sale?


Okay, fair enough. It’s surely better than some shlocked up mess. Oh, BTW, there is no listing for that apartment. And no record of a recent sale either which makes me think that they took it off the market. Hopefully, to renovate it. :]

But I need to get off this negative train because for the rest of the post, I have only nice things to say.

Some of you may remember this recent post about a beautiful new home that I had the privilege of being a part of the furnishings and design!

And you might’ve recalled that I got that gig because I had helped her folks out with a little advice and a brief paint consult when I was doing paint consults. (Sorry, I’m no longer doing them.)

I did get this email from them after they had painted and finished their renovation.



Just a quick note….the Cotton Balls is AMAZING.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

We will send you pics after we move!!  Plus we took your recommendation on the Green Cast on the ceiling, painted that in our bedroom…..GORGEOUS!




That was in September 2015.

Well… I didn’t get the photos until a few days ago when Patti sent another kind email.

And they had just sold their home in this gorgeous Kentucky landmark building built in 1928!




Hello Laurel!
Jessie’s mother here, Pat.  Chris and I have been LABORING in this condo for over a year. And thanks to you, it looks amazing!!! We’re just about completed and I must share!!! Everyone loved the wall colors!!!!  It made it!!!  
We bought the 6th floor condo (1500 sq ft, 2 beds, 2 full baths) for $140,000, put in $56,000. Sold it this past weekend in 9 hours with four other offers. We got full price, $265,000.


They made $69,000!!!


Holy Crap! I did a happy dance right along with her! That is an awesome return on their investment–especially after such a short time in the home.

Let it be known, that I only advised them on the wall color and maybe a couple other things, but the rest they did on their own.


Here is the apartment before the renovation



Great bones for sure and the color is okay but Patti and Chris didn’t care for it. She had an idea to paint it a few different shades of white and I said that I thought that one shade would be even better, to unify the space.

She also felt that there were too many wall mouldings and I agree. While I love applied wall mouldings, in this case with all of the arched doorways and other architectural features, it made sense to remove some of them.

Before I show you the after… Remember the open concept apartment where they destroyed the place? (BTW, it is still on the market and had another price reduction a few weeks ago. I think they are renting the place out now.)

Well… Guess what?


Patti and Chris’ place is open concept, but it is open concept done right.


One other thing. These are real estate photos and usually I’m not too fond of them because they are often distorted and over-exposed. And they turn on the lights which distorts things further. These are only a little distorted and over-exposed. Please note, however, that the wall color looks a little brighter than Cotton Balls really is.


This is the real cotton balls, above.


And here is the beautiful home renovation and beautiful staging.



We enter the two-bedroom apartment through a gracious hallway.


And arrive in the fresh living and dining area.

The floor plan is open, yes, but there are still walls and much beautiful architectural detailing. I’m not sure if the openings are part of the original architecture, but I think it all flows beautifully and certainly looks like it was always like that.

a home renovation beautifully-staged-apartment-4

I love the slight retro feel that’s so in keeping with the building built in the 1920’s or 1930’s.

That is a cool fan!


Love all of the windows!


The apartment is clean, uncluttered, but does have the personal touches that make it feel like home. No wonder it sold in just a few hours!


Their contractor did a fabulous job of stripping the moulding, thus keeping them crisp and gorgeous! Nothing worse than gloppy mouldings!


A view into the new kitchen. Or rather, I should say Unkitchen!


And yes, I was wondering too. There is a door over the washer/dryer. Oh, how I wish I could have that, but they are not allowed in my building.


There is plenty of storage and counter space.


Love this graceful faucet. I don’t usually like all-in-one faucets but this one is awesome!

home renovation done right

Patti and Chris recycled part of the old kitchen with the cabinet in the background.

I think that it looks terrific!


A set of built in cabinets adorned with wonderful hardware.

It’s those small touches that make this place a knockout!


Patti said that she painted the small bathroom wall black (or navy, not sure) after reading this post about using black as a wall color.

home renovation done right Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue

The color looks a little distorted here.


This is Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue.

A Smart Home Renovation and classic charm gives these saavy homeowners a huge return on their investment

(Please share on pinterest)

And there it is! A beautiful home renovation! Bravo to Patti and Chris!

Both Cotton Balls and Van Deusen Blue are part of the Laurel Home Essential Paint Color Collection.

If you missed it, part II of The Paint Collection, the Paint Palette Collection is coming out November 2nd.


And don’t forget that there will be a price increase on November 14th.


For more information click here. (the info is at the end of the post)


Someone had a question about the rolodex update. If you own Laurel’s Rolodex, you will automatically receive the new updated rolodex on November 2nd. And if you don’t have one but order it now, you will also receive the new updated rolodex and lock in the current price.



80 Responses

  1. I see that this post is from 2016, but the designers I see on HGTV always try to preserve the home’s original character. When starting a renovation on a newly purchased house, the designers and new homeowners are dismayed when the original character has been stripped out.

  2. It bothers me a bit that people put so much effort into doing last minute expensive renovations “to sell.” Here’s my theory which I’m trying to put into practice. I’m a widow, in what is probably my last house, and we put a lot of effort into it from the time we bought it 30+ years ago.I know one day I will have to sell, or my heirs will. My theory is to keep doing the stuff every year so it does not have to be done last minute. And that way I get to enjoy it, too. Why shouldn’t we enjoy what makes our houses their best, while we still get to live in them? Why put in a new kitchen for a stranger? Get it now while you can use it, keep clutter at bay, and when that day comes I either walk out or am carried out feet first, the house is in pretty good shape to sell. Incidentally my husband I with our 9 houses together never bought even one that was in what the realtors would call “move in” shape. We have always seen the beauty and possibilities in every dirty, peeling house we’ve seen and always had a good time turning them into our kind of home. Love your taste, your style, your humor.

    1. Thanks so much Spatter ;]

      What bother me is when they do a reno and it totally sucks the big petunia. They think that the orange and brown granite is an upgrade??? But you are also right. I say to make changes for yourself if you’re going to be there for a while.

      I’m not sure if it was obvious in the post, but this home was a flip. The owners were only there for a few months. I don’t know if that was the intention or not.

  3. Hello Laurel,
    Beautiful apartment!! The cotton balls is such a pretty sunny color. Could you tell me is the trim painted the same color or another?? Thanks

    1. Hi Kate,

      The client had asked me if she should paint the trim in a different white and I said, that she could, but I wouldn’t bother. But she did anyway. The trim is Cloud White. But Cloud White and Cotton Balls are verrrrry close to each other.

      1. Hello Kate, I totally agree with Laurel…I shouldn’t have bothered. My guest room and hallway is ALL cotton balls. Love it!!!
        We are moving in a few weeks and this time I’m going to try my hand at Ivory White. Laurel helped my daughter Jessica and she chose this color and it’s warmer than Cotton Balls and I have a very very bright and sunny living room and I think Ivory White will be beautiful! I’ll still use Cotton Balls elsewhere for sure!!! Once again, Laurel your awesome!!!

        1. Hi Patti,

          You have no idea how much help your comment is for a lot of people struggling with their whites. Benjamin Moore has waaaaaay too many!

          It’s something that I learned some 20 years ago when I was painting my home. I had about 50. No wait. 80 swatches of “white paint” on my walls. Oh, which one, which one????????

          Pondering white.

          So, I mixed two of them. lol

          It was just okay. I was still happy because they had put up this beautiful wainscoting and crown moulding. That was gorgeous. But after a flood a few years later, I repainted and this time chose one color and was thrilled with it. BTW, it was Pratt and Lambert Ancestral. It’s a color that’s not far from Ivory White and my living room with a big bay window and another huge window adjacent was flooded with light–especially in the winter. I never tired of it.

  4. Open concept with walls – Yes, please!!! What a gorgeous home. I love the chandelier over the table. Any idea where that came from?

  5. What a beautiful reno and no wonder it sold in just a few hours! What I’m blown away at is what the asking price was. I can’t even imagine what a place like that would cost here in Toronto…unobtainable to most!

  6. Oh Laurel!
    I think this building is in Louisville, where I lived in my early 30’s. I was single and used to daydream about living in this gorgeous building. With your guidance they’ve done a MARVELOUS job on this little condo. If I were still a single gal I’d take it in a nano-second! Love it. (And love you & your blog!!) 🙂

    1. Hello Amy! So glad we took you down memory lane. This building is amazing, has its quirks but was built originally for the upper echelon. The servants button under the dining room table rug still remains. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Linda,

      Yes, they are very close. I wouldn’t stress. Eeny meeny miny moe should I go with cotton balls or cloud white? Eeny meeny miny moe, it doesn’t really matter, they’re both just right!

  7. Wow. Perfect in every way. Just wow. Even the furnishings and artwork are stunning! Speaking of paint colors, my husband and I are so grateful that you’ve been touting the loveliness of Cotton Balls, Laurel. A couple years back, I asked our paint consultation person to recommend a nice clean white for our foyer, downstairs hallway, stairway, upstairs landing. She chose French Canvas. I don’t have to tell YOU that French Canvas is not a clean white. It reads green and looks pretty sucky in this part of the house, most of which faces north. Anyway, my husband is repainting over it with Cotton Balls as I write this. I just called him into my office with roller in hand. 😉

    1. Hi Joyce,

      Oh dear. I did a paint consult once and there was French Canvas in the great room and she hated it. It went from pale, pale celery to in one corner, decidedly light almost mint green.

      It’s definitely one of those colors that sounds better than it is. But for shame that the color person pawned it off as being a clean white. Not!

  8. I can’t get over that kitchen! The floor tile, counters, and faucet as you say, or just amazing. And she did such a good job of getting rid of useless molding and playing up the good stuff. Looks like she earned every cent of that sale price!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      And the fact that they had four offers within nine hours of going on the market and got full-asking price is astonishing. It’s a testament to how together this place is!

  9. What a great apartment.

    I think this really proved to me again that if a room has the right lightening for white, use white with accent’s of color. I love color but there’s something about a white room that works.

    I like how they put a light source behind that stain glass window in the corner.

    Something that I would never thought of doing that worked is the three completely different chairs in the living room.

  10. Fabulous post! Love all of it and love the black walls in the bathroom. Just finished painting my sunroom black.(Along with my Mark Sikes “inspired powder room”) I will send photos in a day or so.
    XO Nancy

  11. No wonder this enticed buyers: it looks like real people lived and could live here—happily, comfortably, without a lot of serious daily cleaning. I also like the layered-in-time feeling that using both vintage and new pieces gives a home. That is a very Southern thing, but what is a little different is that the owner used the low-end vintage oak pieces that most Southerners saw in their grandparents’ homes. They often looked kind of dinky there, but in a sleek new floor plan with lots of light and white (you told me once, “You can’t go wrong with Cotton Balls” and here is more proof!) they remind one of all those older kitchens without the dinkiness or clutter that often attached to them. Takes the edges off the new and gives sentiment to the place. It’s a little thing, I know, but those double “handles” on the windows has the same effect. Thanks for sharing this. Less can be more—-if less reveals life in a home. That’s what those awful HGTV houses lack.

    1. Hi Gaye,

      Yes! What the shows lack is soul. And that’s a real shame. Once I saw one of those staging shows and the homeowners had these way cool vintage pieces that were yes, a little tired. I was so hoping that they’d put some cool white slipcovers on them. But nooooo… they carted them away and put instead, the generic beige sofa. It really annoyed me because they lost a golden moment to do something creative for a change!

  12. Laurel, can you tell me please are the ceilings and mouldings also in Cotton Balls? In the photo where you commented that the contractor had done a great job in stripping the moulding it looks like there are different whites being use. Also in the hallway with all the doors and built in cabinets …. is this also Cotton Balls? I assume that the ceilings are in flat, the walls in matte or eggshell and the woodwork in a satin or semi gloss?
    If you could clarify the above that would be great.

    1. Hi Dorothy,

      Yes, everything is one color as far as I know, but lighting can play tricks.

      I have a client who has cotton balls in the living room and dining room with a classic gray center hall in between. Very pretty. But when standing in the dining room and looking at the LR or vice versa, it looks like two completely different colors.

      I do specify, Flat, Matte (walls) and semi-gloss for trim. What ends up being used is out of my control. :]

      1. Hello Dorothy, Chris and I didn’t specify paint colors except the cotton balls walls. We took her excellent advice and used the Cloud White for all trim and Simply White for the ceilings. We did use just cotton balls down the hallway for everything! In all the different finishes, matte, semi gloss, flat. It was a blast! Laurel is a rock star!

        1. OK, just to clarify…the walls are Cotton Balls and the trim is Cloud White in the main areas? Patti, if you’re checking in, did you open up the kitchen by taking out the wall in the dining room? I’m thinking it was probably a galley kitchen originally?

        2. Yes, the walls are Cotton Balls, trim is Cloud White. Ceiling is Simply White.
          We did tear down the wall between kitchen and dining room. Actually, it literally fell down. This building was built for the elite. There are servant buttons under the dining table. We saved the red call button placed in the kitchen. Thank you!!!!!

  13. Amazing! I love the window treatments – but I couldn’t tell if they had jabots or not (doesn’t matter – they are awesome) and I loved the way they added light to the old space without ‘swiss cheesing’ the ceiling……as far the unkitchen….I did that to my kitchen 15 years ago. My contractor told me at the time I’d be sorry without all the extra storage of upper cabinets….guess what….NOT!

    1. Hi Karen,

      Good for you! And not good for the contractor who needs to mind his own business! They don’t all do that, but too many do!

      And there’s tons of storage in this kitchen. It’s a two-bedroom apartment, not a family-home for 6. Plus there are closets galore!

    1. Hello Christine! It’s porcelain tile made in Spain. It was purposely created as an artist canvas, not perfect. It does show dirt though, ugh. But it’s beautiful and would get it again!

  14. I’m totally inspired. And that’s highly unusual. Wondering if painting everything white only works if you have wonderful architectural details. Btw, I pinned this to my home inspiration board.

    1. Hi Sandy,

      That’s an excellent point. If one is doing traditional decor, there should be architectural detailing, IMO no matter what the color. If this were a contemporary place, white would still work.

  15. Hi Laurel,

    I live in an old house too, in the San Francisco/East Bay area. It was built in 1935. The quality of construction is just amazing in these old houses. The things that they did automatically – the flow of the houses, the spaciousness, the beautiful hardwood floors. They were built to last. Oh well, I suppose those things were much less expensive then. Old houses can require a lot of work, though. I am wondering exactly where Patti and Chris put their $56,000.00? Did they tell you?

    Lisa D.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I live in an old building and love the solid feel of it.

      They redid the kitchen and bathrooms too, I think. And of course, painted everything and refinished the floors.

      1. We had to touch everything! These pics do not reflect the master bath, which was under construction when we had it listed and our open house! Had to take out the small radiator to install a larger marble top sink cabinet. Beautiful glass door for the shower. And I now can’t remember the question!

    2. Hello Lisa, first, it’s a 100 year old building. Plumbing was 1.25% of the job. The kitchen and appliances, sink, fixtures, the whole nine yards was 50%. All new electrical, poplar wood on the wall, custom built hood, etc. all flooring, custom baseboard trim work, all hardwoods refinished, lighting everywhere and fans and more is the remainder. Everything had to be touched, as well as a few bottles of bourbon!

  16. Beautifully refreshed, keeping the intrgrity of the space. I am interested in knowing what is the mold indent color, thinking it is the Cotton Ball as well?

    1. Christine, we used Cloud White on all trim and crown molding in the living, dining room. We used cotton balls on the kitchen walls and crown molding and Dove White for cabinets.

        1. Hey Laurel, I failed to mention to you the details! I only told you about our cotton balls walls, which I will take with me to our new home, which is an architectural gem. You’re wonderful!

  17. This is a stunning home and transformation. The Cotton Balls really showcases the gorgeous architecture and lovely furnishings. Great windows of course. I LOVE Cotton Balls and am using it right now in my home for all trim and woodwork. I learned about it from your post on favorite whites. It is a wonderful white, just like you say Laurel, it’s bright and fresh, not cold, not yellow, not gray, just perfect. I LOVE love love it and I’m so glad I discovered it. Gorgeous master bedroom using that Van Deusen Blue with plenty of white. Yes, we need our ceiling fans here in Central Kentucky ! I especially love the one in the living room.

    1. Hi Maggie,

      I love the ceiling fan in the living room. If it’s not vintage, it certainly looks it. And that’s charming. I’m from Evansville so I know about hot summers. Man. The last summer my mom and I were there, our AC conked out. We had two big floor fans going, but even so, it was unbearable and I was only 15 at the time!

    2. Hello Maggie, glad you love the living room fan! Each blade are hand carved from teak. And it’s whisper quiet thanks to a brushless design. It’s made by Atlas Fan Co, model is the Irene 5 blade, walnut stained that matches our black walnut kitchen shelves! It’s roughly $685.

  18. What a beautiful building. (It’s unfortunate they don’t build them like that any more …. ☺.) As for the interior and the upgrades, F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! Thank you so much Laurel, Patti and Chris for sharing and showing how it should be done. -Brenda-

    1. Hi Brenda,

      Oh, I know, I know and it’s not that the builders can’t slap up some mouldings, but it’s the proportions and finer details that they so frequently get wrong.

      But what I love is that there are distinct rooms and yet it is still quite open. I really don’t think a floor plan should be more open than this. And I hope that a trend will grow for #openconceptwithwalls ! haha

      1. Hello Brenda, I must share that my husband Chris had the design for this space! And I have to add something that doesn’t get noticed. Our baseboards had quarter round which we pulled off everywhere to refinish the hardwood floors. We replaced the quarter round with a custom made 3 1/2″ addition to the 8″ base. It was a HUGE difference, just a gorgeous look to this period of a home!!! The crown molding in the kitchen are three pieces layered together!

  19. Would Pat share any of her sources? Sink faucet, sofa (is it white or pale blue?), rugs, interesting hardware, artwork? Very nice, why move?!

    1. Hi Linda,

      I can ask about her sources. The sofa is pale blue. Isn’t it pretty?

      They just bought the most charming free-standing home. I don’t know if that was the original plan or not.

    2. Hey Linda, the faucet was a new 2016 release, the brand is a Brizo Artesso articulating faucet, roughly $500. The sink is a granite composite, made by Blanco. This sink is AMAZING! Blanco Silgranite sink. Roughly $1000.00. It has a built in drain board. I love love love this sink, will never go back to stainless!!!! Cleans easily too!
      The couch is Arhaus, the Baldwin collection. It’s a gray blue and great to take naps! We sourced our hardware at the The House of Antique Hardware and what little artwork we have hung is just a mix of my daughters and from travels. We chose not to hang much knowing we would be moving! But thank you so much for your compliments!

  20. oh WOW

    a) simply gorgeous, everything

    b) I know this tile! Ann Sacks has it-it’s their new cement look a like porcelain, great quality and looks pretty authentic (which unfortunately can’t be said abut many other look a likes..)
    I wanted it for my master bath..alas, too slippery for clumsy me. Had to go with something else.But so happy to see how beautiful it is in real life..just like I imagined.

    c) couldn’t help but enviously think-for this price, I could comfortably live on the streets in our sunny So Cal. Oh well. At least the weather is very nice here lol.

    OK..I guess I’m off to pinning..:)

    1. Hi Jenny,

      I know! re: c), an apartment like that in Manhattan would be, what? Millions. Well first of all, with that kind of light it would almost have to be a penthouse! And 1,500 sq. feet would be at least 3 bedrooms!

  21. Just lovely. So fresh and airy yet warm at the same time. I agree with Celeste. I wouldn’t change a thing. Beautiful.

  22. That is beautiful and the first home I’ve ever seen where I would change nothing .

    I especially like the cheerful daisies. I’m so tired of looking at droopy tulips with a million leaves crammed in the vase where you know the water will get scummy in two days. Lovely plants in the kitchen as well.

    1. Thank you for your wonderful compliment and for noticing the daisies. My sister Robbin recently died (63) and her fav were daisies. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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